Olive trees are pretty special. They’re one of the oldest cultivated trees in the world, they gift us with delicious olives and olive oil, and are really, REALLY hard to kill.
They’ve also got a pretty fascinating history, having played a key role in human history for the last 6,000-8,000 years, by experts’ best estimates – being used from everything from powering the original Olympic torch to being mixed into ancient cosmetics. The Greek goddess Athena herself apparently first created the olive as a gift to the ancient Greeks, earning herself naming (and bragging) rights to the ancient city of Athens.
Fast-forwarding to now, the olive tree is a versatile plant that can grown as a shade tree, as a hedge, it can be espaliered and even grown in a pot. All hail the mighty olive tree!
Being native to the Mediterranean, olive trees thrive in climates where the summer is hot and long, the winter is cool, and drainage is good – so most of southern Australia, you’re good!
Olive trees can be grown both indoor and indoor, but before you choose have a think about the size of your space, and what you’re looking to get out of your tree – if you’d like to try your hand at picking and preparing the fruit, grow it in the ground; but if you’re more a fan of the aesthetic, you can grow the tree in a pot on a terrace, balcony, or even inside in a bright sunny spot.
If you end up going for the pot option, consider choosing a dwarf variety – olive trees can grow up to 7 metres in ideal conditions, so you’ll want to make sure it’s got plenty of space!
View this post on Instagram
I had lots of questions about our new green friend over in the corner there! This olive tree is a real one but you can find really great faux ones to! x. . . . . #home #bedroom #styling #bedroomideas #masterbedroom #neutrals #bookstagram #decorating #realhomes #bedsidetable #olivetree #houseplantsofinstagram #chanel
Olive trees are pretty hardy – they can survive in poor soils don’t need much water once established. But the one thing to keep an eye out for is making sure it doesn’t get wet feet, which is why good drainage in either the soil or the pot is really important.
Like any fruit-bearing tree, you’ll need to prune your olive each year after harvesting, which can start from April-May until September. Sam Hristofis for Gardening Australia advises:
Cut the branches that cross in the centre of the tree to open up the canopy to allow the light and the air through. This assists fruit ripening. Another important reason to prune olive trees is to rejuvenate the tree to produce fruit and wood for the following year.”
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
There’s a bunch of varieties that you can choose from, including ‘Kalamata’, ‘Picual’, ‘Frantoio’, ‘Manzanillo’, and ‘Arbequina’. Do be aware, however, that olive trees have become a bit of a weed and pest problem in certain parts of Australia. To reduce the risk of birds consuming and spreading your olive seeds, harvest all the crop to minimise what’s left on the trees.
Growing an olive tree is a bit of a commitment if you’re looking to grow fruit – which will happen at about the four or five year mark. For green olives, pick your fruit when it turns from dark green to light green, or wait for them to turn black for black olives.
But wait! You’re not done yet! Freshly picked olives are totally inedible – they have to be soaked, salted and preserved in oil to remove their bitterness. Check out Sam’s family’s recipe for preserving Kalamata olives here.
View this post on Instagram
➡️ Prenota il tuo prossimo viaggio in Sicilia. A giugno sconto del 15% se pernotti almeno 3 notti 🌴🌞🌊 . . Seguici @aiconfinidelsole . . #relax #mare #montagna #trekking #hikingadventures #horse #escursioni #lazio #umbria #Sicilia #molise #puglia #instagram #surf #sport #olivetree #oliveoil #foodporn #paneeolio
Keen to know if an olive tree would suit your space? Visit your local Plant Life Balance accredited nursery and have a chat with the experts.